If you've recently begun to notice small folds or flaps of skin around your eyes, ears, neck, or other parts of your body, you're not alone -- just about everyone who lives to be age 80 or older winds up with at least one skin tag. However, their commonness doesn't make them any less irritating, especially for those who tend to develop them in more visible areas. Should you try to treat these skin tags at home or visit a dermatologist? What treatment methods have the best long-term outcome? Read on to learn more about your skin tag removal options.
Is it safe to remove skin tags at home?
Although some tags that are attached to the skin with just a thin thread can be removed relatively painlessly (and bloodlessly) at home, most of the treatments billed as skin tag removal methods are likely to do nothing more than irritate your skin or cause you to bleed. However, if you do decide to try the at-home removal method, you'll want to stick to the same ones used by most dermatologists -- cutting or freezing. Always ensure any instruments you use are fully sterilized, and bandage the treated area until it has fully healed to prevent infection.
What will a dermatologist do to remove your skin tags?
There are several ways a dermatologist can permanently remove your skin tags without leaving any scarring.
The first is treatment with liquid nitrogen. This nitrogen's surface temperature is well below zero, so when it touches the skin tag, it essentially freezes the skin completely off. You may notice some discoloration during the first few days after treatment as your skin quickly regenerates itself and replaces the areas touched by nitrogen, but after this healing time, you'll probably never see a scar.
Larger skin tags or those that are oddly-shaped and not a good candidate for liquid nitrogen removal may be most easily cut off with a scalpel or cauterized. The dermatologist may clip the skin tag for a few minutes before cutting it to reduce blood flow and minimize the amount of bleeding you experience; alternatively, he or she may cauterize the surface immediately upon cutting to stop the flow of blood. Keeping the site moist with antibiotic ointment and covered with a bandage for the first few days after your removal procedure will ensure that the use of the scalpel or cauterizing instrument won't leave any permanent marks.
For more information, talk to a professional like Heibel Dermatology.